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Title: Watching the World: Cinema, Photography, and the Russian Modernist Imagination
Authors: Zolotareva, Olga
Advisors: Vinitsky, Ilya
Contributors: Slavic Languages and Literatures Department
Keywords: Bely
Subjects: Slavic studies
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Focusing on the first two decades of the twentieth century, this dissertation explores how three Russian writers – Aleksandr Grin (1880-1932), Aleksandr Ivanov (1876-1940), and Andrei Bely (1880-1934)– enlist photography and silent cinema to critique artistic representation.Chapter 1 examines depictions of photography and film in Grin’s short fiction, which suggest that the older mimetic arts (such as literature) are no less complicit than the newer media in encouraging voyeuristic detachment from reality. Chapter 2 looks at Ivanov’s novella “The Stereoscope” (1909). Reading Ivanov through Walter Benjamin’s theory of aura, the chapter shows that the story views itself as akin to stereoscopic space, capable of entrapping the audience in the past. Chapter 3 centers on Bely’s unpublished screenplay Petersburg (circa 1910-1920s), which it contextualizes within Gilles Deleuze’s theory of film and Bely’s own writings on aesthetics. As the chapter argues, Bely uses the screenplay to articulate his realization that while art may show us the world, it does not necessarily force us to act. Bely ends up wresting meaning from art’s revelatory power, as does another Symbolist writer, Zinaida Gippius, whose writings on photography and film are analyzed in the conclusion. Overall, the subjects of my study, while acknowledging art’s value, make a case for its limits as an agent of change. By coaching their arguments in visual terms, they turn the photographic and cinematic image into catalysts for a transhistorical conversation about what it means to be an artist.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Slavic Languages and Literatures

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